A generous bequest from a Leigh yachtsman will form a significant chunk of the £500,000 bill for a new lifeboat station on Southend Pier.

RNLI bosses have revealed the cost of the project was being largely met by the generous donation of Peter Royal.

Building work on the new boat house starts on Monday and should be completed by next summer, said Colin Sedgwick, honorary secretary of the Southend branch of the RNLI.

Mr Royal, who died in 1988, aged 68, was a well-known yachtsman who trained sea scouts locally and taught them to sail. He organised training on yachts under the London Sailing Project and Sail Training Association.

He left sufficient money to pay for the majority of the new lifeboat house. The remainder has been raised from local donations over the past three years.

Lifeboat crews have used temporary boathouse facilities on the end of pier since it was hit by a dredger in 1985. The collision caused irreparable damage to the original lifeboat house, slipway and 60 underwater piles by the old pier head.

Mr Sedgwick said: "For the past five years we have been working on plans for the new boathouse. In 14 years, things have changed and there is a need for new and better facilities."

The new boathouse will include a crew training room, a workshop, drying rooms and changing rooms. The work coincides with plans to build new firefighting pumps and a sewage treatment station on the pier.

Picture, top: Cash - Peter Royal

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